The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance

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County Council, October 18

Where is the outrage on the Chairís comments?
Planning for the development of 995 Morrison Drive

Warwick Jones

Where is the outrage? Perhaps the Presidential election has sucked it out of us. Most folk think the candidates of the two major parties are eminently unworthy to lead the county Ė they lack honor, integrity, honesty, ability and other things. The prospect that one of these candidates will be the future President, depresses most of us. And set against this prospect, the recent transgressions of the County Chair are in deep shadow. And although we may condemn Chairman Summey for what he said, it seems relatively unimportant.

In our comment on the last County meeting, we expressed surprise about how little was said by fellow County Council members about the Chairís comments made at meetings with the Coastal Conservation League and Nix 526. Press Download file for Post and Courier report on the meetings. Chairman Summey apologized for his comments and maybe most Council members thought that was enough. Council member Darby made an impassioned speech but it was a blunt sword not a rapier in its impact. Council member Rawl simply cautioned about talking bad about people. Council member Johnson, perhaps bearing the worst of the Chairís insults, and clearly hurt by them, was mild in her response. We suspect there was anger deep down but Christian charity restrained her.

Council members may be restrained in their comments but at last nightís Council meeting a number of citizens were not. There were only seven and all African Americans. And they were angry and unforgiving. They felt insulted, demeaned and patronized. They said a lot of things that were true but some were dubious, or opinions on racism that we feel were exaggerated. One speaker was very upset, warned of the language he would use, and challenged Council to stop him from speaking. He delivered on the language and caused Council member Darby to ask for his restraint. He was ushered from the podium by some of his friends as he completed his speech.

Two speakers said there was no forgiveness for what Chairman Summey said. One said he would do everything he could to ensure tire tacks over the Chairís political career.

Perhaps not every speaker said it but it was always inferred - they wanted the Chairís resignation and much more. And there was applause after the conclusion of each speech.

Council member Johnson was the only Council member to comment on the issue last night. She said that she was very uncomfortable with what the Chair has said. She asked that Chairman Summey make some amends and take note of what the public was saying.

We wonít attempt a forecast of Chair Summeyís future career. There have been examples of politicians far more eminent that he whose careers have survived blunders. Maybe Council will allow him to serve out his term until the end of the year. But we will be very surprised if he again seeks the Chair and even more surprised if he gains it. As one speaker put it, by not speaking out against what Chair Summey said, you condone it. We think his assessment in right.

The only matter of substance before Council last night was the future of the property owned by the County at 995 Morrison Drive, within the City of Charleston. Its location on the Peninsula and its size make it very valuable. Although it is not certain, it is likely the County will sell the property. And to ensure the highest price, the County wants to determine its zoning. So Council last night instructed staff to work with the City of Charleston to create a Planned Unit Development (PUD). Amongst other things, the County will seek to build a 12 story building and with no density limitations.

We found it interesting that the City is asking that land be set aside (for purchase or right of way) to accommodate the creation of a fly over. The flyover is necessary to accommodate a development on the other side of Morrison Drive. Without this flyover, the development would not be legally possible. Mr. Robert Clement is the principal of the development group.

Council member Rawl drew attention to this set aside and wanted assurance that any deal with the City recognized the value of the land given up. He could have also said giving up the land would materially affect the value of a future development.

Council member Schweers sought and received assurance that no deal with the City would be made until Council had reviewed the PUD. He also signaled his uncertainty as to whether the sale of the property was the right thing.

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